You are on page 1of 17

1

2013R01184/RJ G & SMW



UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

v.

MENDEL EPSTEIN,
MARTIN WOLMARK a/k/a Mordechai,
J AY GOLDSTEIN a/k/a Yaakov,
DAVID EPSTEIN a/k/a Ari, and
BINYAMIN STIMLER
:
:
:
:
:
:
:
:
:

Criminal No. 14-

18 U.S.C. 1201(a)(1), 1201(c), 1201(d)
and 18 U.S.C. 2



INDICTMENT
The Grand J ury in and for the District of New J ersey, sitting at Trenton, charges:
COUNT 1
(Conspiracy to Commit Kidnapping)
1. At all times relevant to Count 1 of this Indictment:
a. Defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN was an Orthodox J ewish Rabbi who
facilitated J ewish divorce proceedings and maintained residences in Brooklyn, New York and
Lakewood, New J ersey.
b. Defendant MARTIN WOLMARK a/k/a Mordechai, was an Orthodox
J ewish Rabbi who facilitated J ewish divorce proceedings and resided in Monsey, New York.
c. Defendant J AY GOLDSTEIN a/k/a Yaakov, was an Orthodox J ewish
Rabbi who facilitated J ewish divorce proceedings and resided in Brooklyn, New York.
d. Defendant DAVID EPSTEIN a/k/a Ari, was the son of defendant
MENDEL EPSTEIN and a resident of Lakewood, New J ersey.
e. Defendant BINYAMIN STIMLER was an Orthodox J ewish Rabbi who
2

participated in J ewish divorce proceedings and resided in Brooklyn, New York.
f. CC-1 was a co-conspirator of the defendants and resided in Lakewood,
New J ersey.
g. CC-2 was an Orthodox J ewish Rabbi who was a co-conspirator of the
defendants and resided in Lakewood, New J ersey.
h. According to J ewish law, in order to effect a divorce, a husband must
provide his wife with a document known as a get. A get serves as documentary proof of the
dissolution of a marriage under J ewish law, and divorce cannot be effected until a get is given by
the husband. The get is a dated and witnessed document wherein the husband expresses his
unqualified intention to divorce his wife and sever all ties with her. The get is written by an
expert scribe, known as a sofer, who acts as the husbands agent. After the get is written by the
sofer, the husband hands it to his wife in the presence of two witnesses. A wife may also have an
agent accept the get on her behalf. At this point the marriage has been dissolved and a rabbinical
court, known as a beth din, will give both parties a certificate confirming their new marital
status. If a husband refuses to give his wife a get, the wife has the right to sue for divorce in a beth
din, which may order the husband to issue the get. If the husband refuses to comply with the beth
dins order, he may be subjected to various penalties to pressure him into giving his wife a get and
thereby consenting to the divorce. A woman whose husband will not give her a get and consent to
a divorce is known as an agunah (agunot in plural).

3

The Conspiracy
2. From at least in or about 2009 to in or about October 2013, in the District of New
J ersey, and elsewhere, defendants
MENDEL EPSTEIN,
MARTIN WOLMARK a/k/a Mordechai,
J AY GOLDSTEIN a/k/a Yaakov,
DAVID EPSTEIN a/k/a Ari, and
BINYAMIN STIMLER

conspired and agreed, together and with others known and unknown, to knowingly and unlawfully
seize, confine, inveigle, decoy, kidnap, abduct, and hold a person for ransom, reward and
otherwise, that is, to threaten and coerce J ewish husbands to give gets to their wives, and, in
committing and in furtherance of the commission of the offense, traveled in interstate commerce
and used means, facilities and instrumentalities of interstate and foreign commerce, contrary to
Title 18, United States Code, Section 1201(a)(1).
The Object of the Conspiracy
3. The object of the conspiracy was for defendants to obtain money and other things
of value from agunot and their families by kidnapping the husbands of the agunot and violently
coercing the husbands to give gets to their wives and thereby consent to J ewish divorces.
Manner and Means of the Conspiracy
4. It was part of the conspiracy that defendants MENDEL EPSTEIN, MARTIN
WOLMARK, and J AY GOLDSTEIN charged agunot and their families thousands of dollars to
obtain gets from recalcitrant husbands by means of violence.
5. It was further part of the conspiracy that defendant DAVID EPSTEIN, defendant
BINYAMIN STIMLER, CC-1, CC-2, and others assisted defendants MENDEL EPSTEIN,
4

MARTIN WOLMARK, and J AY GOLDSTEIN in obtaining gets from recalcitrant husbands by
means of violence.
6. It was further part of the conspiracy that in order to obtain the defendants
assistance in obtaining a get from a recalcitrant husband, the family of an agunah made contact
with one or more of the defendants to discuss the details of the divorce. The agunahs family then
made payment to one or more of the defendants to obtain the get. The defendants then convened
a beth din, which issued a contempt order, known as a seruv, against the husband. If the
husband failed to respond, the beth din issued a ruling, known as a psak din, authorizing the use
of coercion and force to obtain the get. The defendants then arranged to kidnap the recalcitrant
husband and violently coerce him to give his wife a get.
Overt Acts In Furtherance of the Conspiracy
7. In furtherance of the conspiracy, and to accomplish its object, one or more of the
defendants and others engaged in the following overt acts, among others:
The 2009 Forced Get
a. In or about late November 2009, CC-1 lured a man (Victim 1) from
Brooklyn, New York to Lakewood, New J ersey under the pretense of an employment offer.
Victim 1 stayed several days in a temporary residence in Lakewood. On or about December 1,
2009, while Victim 1 was in Lakewood, New J ersey, he was assaulted by defendant DAVID
EPSTEIN and others, placed in a van, tied up, beaten and shocked with a stun-gun until he agreed
to give his wife a get.
The 2010 Forced Get
b. On or about October 16, 2010, CC-2 lured a man (Victim 2) from
5

Brooklyn, New York to Lakewood, New J ersey under the pretense of helping CC-2 with Talmudic
research. On or about October 17, 2010, defendant DAVID EPSTEIN, CC-2 and others assaulted
Victim 2, tied him up and beat him until he agreed to give his wife a get. While Victim 2 was
being assaulted, defendants MARTIN WOLMARK and J AY GOLDSTEIN arrived to officiate
and record the get.
The 2011 Forced Get
c. On or about August 22, 2011, defendant DAVID EPSTEIN, after traveling
from New J ersey to New York, defendant J AY GOLDSTEIN, and others forced their way inside
the residence of a man (Victim 3) and his roommate (Victim 4) in Brooklyn, New York.
Defendants DAVID EPSTEIN and J AY GOLDSTEIN and the other co-conspirators then
assaulted Victim 3 and Victim 4, punched them the face, handcuffed them, blindfolded them, and
bound their legs until Victim 3 agreed to give his wife a get.
The 2013 Forced Get
d. On or about August 7, 2013, defendants MENDEL EPSTEIN and
MARTIN WOLMARK participated in a telephone conference call with two undercover FBI
agents who purported to be an agunah (UCE-1) and her brother (UCE-2) (collectively, the
UCEs). During that recorded call, defendants MENDEL EPSTEIN and MARTIN
WOLMARK and the UCEs discussed the possibility of using violence to force UCE-1s purported
husband (the Husband) to give her a get. Also during that call, defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN
agreed to meet with the UCEs in person at a later date because, according to defendant MENDEL
EPSTEIN, I dont think this is a phone conversation, am I correct?
e. On or about August 14, 2013, defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN met with the
6

UCEs at his home in Lakewood, New J ersey to discuss kidnapping the Husband to force him to
give the get. During that recorded meeting, defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN spoke about
kidnapping, beating, and torturing husbands in order to force them into giving gets to their wives:
Sup, suppose we, ya know this is an expensive thing to do. Its not
simply . . . basically what we are going to be doing is kidnapping a
guy for a couple of hours and beating him up and torturing him and
then getting him to give the get.

f. At the August 14, 2013 meeting, defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN also talked
about employing tough guys who utilize electric cattle prods, karate and handcuffs, and place
plastic bags over the heads of the husbands to coerce them to give gets to their wives. Defendant
MENDEL EPSTEIN and UCE-2 also engaged in the following conversation:
Defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN (ME): Wait, wait, wait a minute. Wait a
second here. I guarantee you that if youre in the van, youd give a get to your
wife. You probably love your wife, but youd give a get when they finish with
you. So, and its, hopefully, there wont even be a mark on him.

UCE-2: You can leave a mark.

ME: No, no, no, no, we --

UCE-2: I know. I understand what youre saying.

ME: We prefer not to leave a mark, right. Because then when they do go to the
police, the police look at the guy --

UCE-2: Yeah, whats wrong --

ME: You look the same. You know, ah, whats so terrible. They did this to give
a get. How long didnt you give a get. Ah, two years, yeah. I mean, I, Ive
traveled, Ive been in South America too, and basically the reaction of the police is,
if the guy does not have a mark on him, then uh, is there some J ewish crazy affair
here, they dont get involved.

* * *

ME: We take an electric cattle prod.
7


UCE-2: Electric cattle prod, okay.

ME: If it can get a bull that weighs five tons to move, you put it in certain parts of
his body and in one minute the guy will know.

g. At the August 14, 2013 meeting, defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN also
admitted that he committed similar kidnappings every year to year and a half.
h. At the August 14, 2013 meeting, defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN stated that
the kidnapping would cost $10,000 to pay for the beth din to approve the kidnapping and use of
violence, and an additional $50,000 to $60,000 to pay for the tough guys who would conduct the
beating of the Husband to coerce him to give the get. Defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN further
stated that defendant MARTIN WOLMARK officiates during the kidnapping and forced get, and
that defendant MENDEL EPSTEINs son is one of the tough guys who uses his karate skills on
the husbands to facilitate the coerced divorces.
i. On or about August 14, 2013, UCE-2 made a payment of approximately
$10,000 to defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN for defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN to arrange for the
kidnapping and beating of the Husband to coerce him to give the get.
j. On or about September 25, 2013, UCE-2 called defendant MENDEL
EPSTEIN. During that recorded call, defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN and UCE-2 discussed a
warehouse in Middlesex County, New J ersey (the Warehouse) as the location of the kidnapping
and beating of the Husband to coerce him to give the get. Defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN
indicated that he wanted to investigate the Warehouse to ensure that it was an appropriate location.
Defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN further told UCE-2 that UCE-2 would have to pay him a portion
of the fee prior to the investigation. In response, UCE-2 told defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN that
8

he would wire $20,000 to defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN after the psak din was issued.
k. During the September 25, 2013 call, defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN and
UCE-2 also discussed whether it was necessary for the Husband to actually enter the Warehouse
before he was kidnapped. Defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN stated that it might not be necessary
for the Husband to enter the Warehouse because they dont need him for long, believe me.
Theyll have him in the van, hooded, and it will happen.
l. During the September 25, 2013 call, defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN and
UCE-2 further discussed luring the Husband to the Warehouse and how the Husband was going to
get home after the kidnapping. Defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN told UCE-2 that UCE-2 should
bring the Husband home so there would be no police involvement.
m. On or about September 29, 2013, defendants MENDEL EPSTEIN and J AY
GOLDSTEIN traveled from New York to New J ersey to inspect the Warehouse. Shortly
thereafter, defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN sent an e-mail to UCE-2. In that e-mail, defendant
MENDEL EPSTEIN told UCE-2 that the Warehouse was [r]eally out of the way great.
Defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN also noted that there was a police station nearby, and asked
whether the police or other security regularly patrolled the area around the Warehouse.
n. On or about September 30, 2013, defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN and
UCE-2 had a telephone call, which was recorded. In response to defendant MENDEL
EPSTEINs question in the September 29, 2013 e-mail about police or security patrols, UCE-2
told defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN that there would be no security patrols. Defendant
MENDEL EPSTEIN told UCE-2 that the Warehouse was better than good and that it would be
better if the Husband were brought inside the Warehouse for the kidnapping. Defendant
9

MENDEL EPSTEIN then outlined the plan for the kidnapping of the Husband, according to which
defendant MENDEL EPSTEINs co-conspirators would enter the Warehouse on the evening of
October 9, 2013, after UCE-2 had unlocked it, and wait there for UCE-2 to bring the Husband to
the Warehouse, after which the Husband would be kidnapped and forced to give the get.
o. During the September 30, 2013 call, defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN
confirmed that the beth din would issue the psak din on October 2, 2013, after which UCE-2 would
wire $20,000 to defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN as payment. Defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN
also instructed UCE-2 to bring a check in the amount of $30,000, and made out to defendant
MENDEL EPSTEIN, with him to the Warehouse on October 9, 2013 because the participants in
the kidnapping and beating need to be paid within twenty-four hours.
p. On or about October 2, 2013, defendants MENDEL EPSTEIN, MARTIN
WOLMARK, and J AY GOLDSTEIN convened a beth din at defendant MARTIN WOLMARKs
office in Monsey, New York. The purpose of the beth din was to issue a psak din authorizing the
use of violence to obtain a get from the Husband. That beth din proceeding was recorded by
UCE-1.
q. During the October 2, 2013 beth din proceeding, UCE-1 asked defendant
J AY GOLDSTEIN who he was. Defendant J AY GOLDSTEIN refused to answer UCE-1s
question, explaining that it was better the less information you [UCE-1] know about myself.
r. During the October 2, 2013 beth din proceeding, defendant MARTIN
WOLMARK asked UCE-1 to explain her situation, asking Why do you have to be released from
this marriage, even if your husband has to be coerced? UCE-1 explained her situation and why
she was desperate for a divorce from her husband, who refused to give her a get. Defendant
10

MENDEL EPSTEIN directed defendant J AY GOLDSTEIN to write down everything for the psak
din.
s. At the end of the October 2, 2013 beth din, defendant MARTIN
WOLMARK asked UCE-1 about the plan for the forced get and whether UCE-1 knew the
location and the timing. Defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN told UCE-1 that the plan to force the
Husband to give the get was good, stating that its at night, and its a weird place, its very good
hopefully the patrol will not be out on patrol that night. Defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN
further told UCE-1 that on October 9, 2013, she should be out in public among a lot of people.
t. On or about October 2, 2013, the beth din issued the psak din authorizing
the use of coercion and force to obtain a get from the Husband.
u. On or about October 2, 2013, a payment of approximately $20,000 was
wired to defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN by UCE-2.
v. On or about October 8, 2013, defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN and UCE-2
met at defendant MENDEL EPSTEINs home in Brooklyn, New York. That meeting was
recorded by UCE-2. Defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN told UCE-2 that eight people would be
present for the October 9, 2013 kidnapping and beating of the Husband, to include four tough
guys, two witnesses, a sofer, and a person to accept the get on behalf of UCE-1. Defendant
MENDEL EPSTEIN further stated that he would not be present at the Warehouse on October 9,
2013. Defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN told UCE-2 that he would be in some public place, so that
witnesses could confirm his alibi if he were later questioned by the police. Defendant MENDEL
EPSTEIN again directed UCE-2 to bring a check in the amount of $30,000, made out to him, and
that UCE-2 was to give the check to the sofer at the Warehouse.
11

w. At the October 8, 2013 meeting, defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN also
discussed other similar kidnappings that defendant MENDEL EPSTEIN had previously
orchestrated.
x. On or about October 9, 2013, defendant J AY GOLDSTEIN, defendant
BINYAMIN STIMLER, and six other individuals (collectively, the Kidnap Team) traveled
from New York to the Warehouse in Middlesex County, New J ersey to execute the planned
kidnapping of the Husband to force him to give the get. The Kidnap Team arrived at the
Warehouse in two dark minivans shortly after 8:00 p.m. Upon exiting the minivans, some of the
Kidnap Team members put on masks and entered the Warehouse office with UCE-2. The
remaining Kidnap Team members walked around the outside of the Warehouse with flashlights.
Over the next fifteen minutes, members of the Kidnap Team went in and out of the Warehouse
office wearing disguises, including ski masks, Halloween masks and bandanas. While inside the
Warehouse office, the Kidnap Team members discussed their plan for assaulting the Husband.
Specifically, they discussed how they planned to grab the Husband, pull him down, tie him up, and
take his phone, as well as where they would grab him and drag him, making sure to keep him away
from the windows. Members of the Kidnap Team brought with them to the Warehouse rope,
surgical blades, a screwdriver, plastic bags, and items used to ceremonially record the get.
All in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1201(c).
12

COUNT 2
(Kidnapping)
1. The allegations contained in paragraphs 1, 6 and 7a of Count 1 are re-alleged and
incorporated as if fully set forth herein.
2. From in or about November 2009 to on or about December 1, 2009, in Ocean
County, in the District of New J ersey and elsewhere, defendant
DAVID EPSTEIN a/k/a Ari

did knowingly and unlawfully seize, confine, inveigle, decoy, kidnap, abduct, and hold a person,
Victim 1, for ransom, reward and otherwise, that is, to threaten and coerce Victim 1 to give a get,
and, in committing and in furtherance of the commission of the offense, did cause Victim 1 to be
willfully transported in interstate commerce from New York to New J ersey and did use any means,
facility, and instrumentality of interstate and foreign commerce.
In violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1201(a)(1), and Title 18, United States
Code, Section 2.


13

COUNT 3
(Kidnapping)
1. The allegations contained in paragraphs 1, 6 and 7b of Count 1 are re-alleged and
incorporated as if fully set forth herein.
2. On or about October 17, 2010, in the District of New J ersey, and elsewhere,
defendants
MARTIN WOLMARK a/k/a Mordechai,
J AY GOLDSTEIN a/k/a Yaakov, and
DAVID EPSTEIN a/k/a Ari

did knowingly and unlawfully seize, confine, inveigle, decoy, kidnap, abduct, and hold a person,
Victim 2, for ransom, reward and otherwise, that is, to threaten and coerce Victim 2 to give a get,
and, in committing and in furtherance of the commission of the offense, did cause Victim 2 to be
willfully transported in interstate commerce from New York to New J ersey, did travel in interstate
commerce from New York to New J ersey, and did use any means, facility, and instrumentality of
interstate and foreign commerce.
In violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1201(a)(1), and Title 18, United States
Code, Section 2.

14

COUNT 4
(Kidnapping)
1. The allegations contained in paragraphs 1, 6 and 7c of Count 1 are re-alleged and
incorporated as if fully set forth herein.
2. On or about August 22, 2011, in the District of New J ersey, and elsewhere,
defendants
J AY GOLDSTEIN a/k/a Yaakov and
DAVID EPSTEIN a/k/a Ari

did knowingly and unlawfully seize, confine, inveigle, decoy, kidnap, abduct, and hold a person,
Victim 3, for ransom, reward and otherwise, that is, to threaten and coerce Victim 3 to give a get,
and, in committing and in furtherance of the commission of the offense, did travel in interstate
commerce from New J ersey to New York, and did use any means, facility, and instrumentality of
interstate and foreign commerce.
In violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1201(a)(1), and Title 18, United States
Code, Section 2.

15

COUNT 5
(Attempted Kidnapping)
1. The allegations contained in paragraphs 1, 6 and 7d-x of Count 1 are re-alleged and
incorporated as if fully set forth herein.
2. On or about October 9, 2013, in the District of New J ersey, and elsewhere,
defendants
MENDEL EPSTEIN,
MARTIN WOLMARK a/k/a Mordechai,
J AY GOLDSTEIN a/k/a Yaakov, and
BINYAMIN STIMLER

did knowingly and unlawfully attempt to seize, confine, inveigle, decoy, kidnap, abduct, and hold
a person, the Husband, for ransom, reward and otherwise, that is, to threaten and coerce the
Husband to give a get, and, in committing and in furtherance of the commission of the offense, did
travel in interstate commerce from New York to New J ersey, and did use any means, facility, and
instrumentality of interstate and foreign commerce.
In violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1201(d), and Title 18, United States
Code, Section 2.


16

FORFEITURE ALLEGATION
1. The allegations contained in all paragraphs of Counts 1 through 5 of this Indictment
are hereby re-alleged and incorporated by reference as though set forth in full herein for the
purpose of alleging forfeitures pursuant to Title 18, United States Code, Section 981(a)(1)(C) and
Title 28, United States Code, Section 2461.
2. Upon conviction of the any of the offenses alleged in Counts 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 of this
Indictment, defendants MENDEL EPSTEIN, MARTIN WOLMARK, J AY GOLDSTEIN a/k/a
Yaakov, DAVID EPSTEIN a/k/a Ari, and BINYAMIN STIMLER shall forfeit to the United
States, pursuant to Title 18, United States Code, Sections 981(a)(1)(C), any property, real or
personal, that constitutes or was derived from any proceeds traceable to the commission of the
above offenses, including but not limited to, approximately $30,000 in United States currency, in
that such sum constituted and was derived, directly and indirectly, from proceeds traceable to the
commission of a violation of Title 18, United states Code, Section 1201(c).
3. If any of the above-described forfeitable property, as a result of any act or omission
of defendants MENDEL EPSTEIN, MARTIN WOLMARK, J AY GOLDSTEIN a/k/a Yaakov,
DAVID EPSTEIN a/k/a Ari, and BINYAMIN STIMLER:
a. Cannot be located upon the exercise of due diligence;
b. Has been transferred or sold to, or deposited with, a third party;
c. Has been placed beyond the jurisdiction of the court;
d. Has been substantially diminished in value; or
e. Has been commingled with other property which cannot be divided without
difficulty;
then it is the intent of the United States of America to seck forfeiture of any other property of
defendants MENDEL EPSTEfN, MARTfN WOLMARK, JAY GOLDSTEfN a/k/a " Yaakov,"
DAVID EPSTEfN a/k/a "Ari ," and BINY AMfN STIMLER up to the value of the forfeitable
property described above, pursuant to Ti tle 21, United States Code, Section 853(p) as incorporated
by Title 28, United States Code, Section 246 1 (c).
Pursuant to Title 18, United States Code, Section 981 (a)( I )(C) and Title 28, United States
Code, Section 2461.
PAUL J . FISHMAN
United States Attorney
A TRUE BILL
FOREPERSON
17